Assuming the Worst?

It’s so easy to make assumptions, isn’t it? Positive or negative. You see, therefore it is. You hear, therefore it is. I could go on and on with the remaining 3 senses. The point is that assumptions, while sometimes beneficial, are mostly negative, toxic, and suffocating. Assumptions contain almost no information, and because they lack true data, the devil uses them on us as much as a new mom uses baby wipes on her newborn. While they’re as easy to make as a crease in a piece of paper, the damage they do to both you and your recipient can be devastating.

 

(Enter Sensitive Susan) If it’s cloudy, Susan assumes it might rain and cancels her outdoor plans. If Juan doesn’t respond to Susan within 2 seconds, she assumes he’s upset. Even in regard to texting; if Juan doesn’t include the exclamation point and a red heart, Susan assumes he’s cheating. Assumptions are what we accept as true but have no proof. If you are Susan, the assumer, don’t be surprised if, one day, you’re standing by yourself at the altar. If you are Juan, the assumee, you might want to jump in your van and head to Galveston. But hold on just a minute, you two. Before you end up alone, Susan, and before you pack your bags, Juan, why not try these tried and true remedies?

 

  1. Realize you’re making assumptions. Until you realize you’re an assumption-making machine, there’s no way to stop. Make a conscious effort to see if you’re one of these by writing things down. It could be anything as little as assuming your hubby’s goal for not putting the dishes in the dishwasher was to annoy you, to something as devastating as assuming he’s cheating on you.
  2. Assess what you believe. It’s important to step back and really look into what you believe about yourself, another person, or a situation you’re making an assumption about. Do you really believe your wife would purposefully throw away your golf clubs because she doesn’t want you to have any fun? See where the belief is coming from. Maybe someone in your past did something similar and you are reminded of it. Is it a gut feeling? An opinion? It’s important to be able to understand what you’re believing and why.
  3. Have a conversation. I know this can be scary for all insecure people out there. Because of our pride, we don’t really want anybody to see our vulnerabilities. We don’t want anyone to know we really care enough to have a conversation. Let’s feature Juan and Susan again for a moment. (Enter the Silent Treatment) Maybe if Susan is silent, Juan might ask her what’s wrong. She has found that this little manipulative tool works great in combination with assumptions. But let’s say Juan has no idea Susan is upset at all and doesn’t ask her anything. Now Susan is left alone with the weight of her assumption plus the angst the defective Silent Treatment tool provided. She decides to fix the tool and try again. But if she keeps up this insanity, she’ll eventually collapse under the weight of the assumption because she refuses to have the conversation. Juan isn’t a mind-reader, Susan. Let’s leave that to Captain Clairvoyance.
  4. Ask questions. A little investigation never hurt anybody. Maybe Susan could ask, Hey Juan. Can you explain to me what I just saw? Or maybe, What was your intention when you decided to skip our lunch date and not tell me? Questions don’t assume. They don’t accuse. They simply ask.
  5. Decide to see the positive. This is definitely a decision and not a feeling. We rarely feel like seeing the positive when clearly the whole thing feels negative and hurtful. Maybe Susan thinks Juan is out to get her. In her mind, he wants to show her that he doesn’t really care about her feelings, to make her feel less-than, when in reality, what Juan did had nothing to do with Susan. It would be better for Susan to first see Juan’s good intentions. Believe me, if he doesn’t have good intentions, it will be revealed and then Susan can deal with that instead of letting her assumption about it grow into a gargantuan monster.

 

Our assumptions whether positive or negative rob us of our own peace because they aren’t usually based on fact. Assumptions produce tension and conflict which leaves us feeling anxious. There’s really no getting around it. But to let it build into something bigger than it is, isn’t necessary. Life is too short to assume anything. Get the facts and start living.

 

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Suzanne Sommerville

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Christ-follower, daughter, mom, Mimi to 6 grandchildren, teacher, writer, and musician

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